Client satisfaction is undoubtedly a critical measure of corporate success. We also know that employee satisfaction is the underlying metric that creates a positive client experience. Businesses that understand the link between employee experience and client experience can foster a culture that addresses both needs—while forging meaningful long-term partnerships.
Accomplishing this in today’s highly competitive job market means embracing fresh approaches to employee culture and benefits to attract and retain top talent. One often debated example that caught our attention is unlimited paid time off (PTO).
But is unlimited PTO worth it, and can it lead to increased employee satisfaction and a better client experience?
When our team members expressed stress around leave balances and managing the uncertainties of life, Partner Forces made the bold decision to introduce unlimited PTO for all employees in January 2022.
Going in, we had a significant advantage—our employee satisfaction rates were already high, with low turnover and a well-established corporate culture. Introducing unlimited PTO was a proactive step to give our team even more flexibility and autonomy. We also aimed to show our employees that we trust them to manage their time and prioritize their clients while also taking care of themselves.
A year later, we asked our data and operations teams to examine the impacts of our policy and any unintended consequences to the business and key stakeholders—our clients and partners. Here is what we learned.
What was the impact on our employees?
The results of this analysis were dramatic. Our employees felt valued and appreciated, and they reported higher levels of job satisfaction than ever before. They were more engaged in their work, more likely to go above and beyond for our clients, and more likely to recommend our company as a great place to work.
- From 2021 to 2022, Partner Forces saw a 50% increase in PTO use, no measurable decline in project performance, and, in fact, increased corporate growth.
- In June 2022, we surveyed all employees about the new benefit. Internal survey results indicated employees valued unlimited PTO for the positive impacts on their overall wellness and performance. In fact, 85% of survey respondents said unlimited PTO has a positive impact on their mental health, while 78% said the benefit has positively affected their work performance.
Setting an example from the top down
Our approach to taking time off and the guidance we give our team members is what makes this new benefit so successful.
- Processes are in place to eliminate single points of failure within each team, enabling the flexibility and security to take time off.
BENEFIT: This contributes to mutual trust between managers and employees, so they feel comfortable and supported when scheduling PTO.
- From weekly stand-up calls to one-on-one meetings, our leadership celebrates team and individual contributions and reminds everyone to prioritize work-life balance.
BENEFIT: This reduces potential stress associated with taking leave.
- Our executives and managers lead by example, regularly taking time off and demonstrating their personal commitment to our culture and values.
BENEFIT: This helps build a positive workplace culture that supports individual wellness.
Unlimited PTO is not only a big selling point for prospective hires—it is also a strong testament to our commitment to fostering an employee-centric workplace that is rooted in trust.
So how does this tie back to client experience?
It’s simple: happy employees make for happy clients. When employees feel respected, supported, and fulfilled in their work, they are more likely to provide excellent client service. They are more patient, more empathetic, and more willing to go the extra mile for each other and for our clients.
At Partner Forces, we’ve seen this positive outcome firsthand—2022 was our most successful year to date:
- We supported 22 projects and earned outstanding customer feedback.
- We secured 11 new projects, including our first prime contract at TSA and commercial projects in growing areas like supply chain security and analytics and uncrewed aircraft systems security.
- We welcomed 33 new employees, nearly doubling the size of our workforce.
With these changes, we continued to prioritize our employees’ well-being and job satisfaction. And the result is a team that is enthusiastic about what they do and dedicated to providing the highest quality support to our clients and partners.
What can other companies learn from this?
Benefits like unlimited PTO don’t always work. Company culture is critical to success—our high employee satisfaction and core values anchored by trust, transparency, and communication offer a major advantage. But if you’re ready to try something new, here are a few tips:
- Start with your people and understand what will help them thrive.
- Foster a positive and supportive work environment that enables a culture of success.
- Get creative! Consider all ideas when it comes to employee benefits and don’t be afraid to do something different.
- Try something new—start small, study the findings, and then scale.
- Avoid creating too many rules around any new benefit, which might take away from the intentions behind it—show trust to your team.
The Bottom Line
Partner Forces continues to see the positive effects of our unlimited PTO policy in recruiting, survey results, and around the (mostly virtual) water cooler. In the past year, we showed up for our clients and strategic partners, advanced critical missions, developed new tools and methodologies, and expanded into new markets. All while significantly expanding our workforce (53% growth) and realizing approximately 29% revenue growth.
All statisticians know correlation is not causation, but compelling data from our PTO analysis tell a powerful story—Partner Forces is leading by example and empowering our employees with the resources, tools, support, and benefits they need to do exceptional work.
As we continue to grow, we are motivated to keep learning and embracing innovative ways to build and sustain a diverse and talented workforce that reflects our unique culture and core values.